To the Editor:
This retired teacher is indeed anxious (“DeVos Takes Reins at Ed. Department, While Anxieties Persist,” Feb. 15, 2017).
In the article, you quote the comments of the new U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, given at the Education Department headquarters: “All too often, adult issues can complicate and get in the way of a focus upon those we serve.” A Wall Street Journal opinion piece published Feb. 8, referring to DeVos, states that “she knows education should be about learning for children and not jobs for adults.”
These references to “jobs for adults” and “adult issues” getting in the way of education are demeaning and disheartening. Is this how the new education secretary views the dedicated teachers who strive daily to educate our children?
I was privileged to teach during the 1990s in Los Angeles’ first public magnet school. Students in 7th to 12th grade applied, were admitted by lottery, and bused from across the vast Los Angeles school district. When the students entered at age 12, they came from widely diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They arrived with distinctive skills, talents, and attitudes. Some struggled in remedial classes; others excelled in honors-level classes. Many made their best effort in regular pre-algebra and algebra classes.
I was a teacher who made the same effort with every student. I wish my students had been equally successful. My colleagues and I sought to facilitate student learning.
Demeaning these professionals, as Secretary DeVos is doing, is counterproductive. It deters bright young people from choosing teaching careers, discourages those already teaching, and harms the children we serve.
Betty R. Kazmin
A version of this article appeared in the March 22, 2017 edition of Education Week as DeVos Ignores Teachers’ Needs